Prominent actor Sir Ian McKellen is set to visit dozens of schools across the country to promote the agenda of a homosexual campaign group.
During a similar tour in 2008 Sir Ian, who is best known for his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, claimed that faith schools which teach Christian sexual ethics are providing children with a “second-class education.”
Homosexual campaign group Stonewall claims that McKellen’s tour will help to tackle homophobic bullying, but the visits are likely to concern many parents who are wary of the promotion of homosexuality in schools.
Sir Ian, who co-founded Stonewall, said: “By talking frankly about my own life as a gay man and listening to the concerns of staff and students, parents and governors, I hope the visits arranged by Stonewall may make a difference in the classroom and the playground and also give confidence to gay students about their lives in the future.”
The tour is aimed at the 42 members of Stonewall’s Education Champions Programme, which encourages local authorities to promote homosexuality in their schools.
Hollywood star Sir Ian attracted media attention during a previous schools tour in December 2008.
On a visit to a school in Kent, Sir Ian claimed that faith schools which teach that homosexuality is morally wrong are providing children with an inferior education.
He said: “It worries me that there is an increasing number of faith schools in this country where it might be thought appropriate for religious views to invade the classroom.
“If that’s happening, those kids are getting a second-class education.”
“It [religion] is the one area where people are not frightened to be openly homophobic,” he added. “Stonewall isn’t trying to convert the religious, it’s just an area where eventually we can be called in to help.”
Earlier this year it was revealed that Stonewall was set to send every secondary school in Britain a controversial DVD.
The interactive DVD contained a one hour 45 minute feature film, entitled FIT, which the campaign group claimed would challenge homophobic bullying.
FIT is an adaptation of Stonewall’s highly controversial ‘gay play’ of the same name which toured schools during 2008-9.
But the play, which was targeted at school children aged 11 to 14, prompted protests from concerned parents who said their children were too young to be exposed to its adult themes.
One mother said: “It has come to something when our schools are worried about first year pupils making their minds up about their sexuality”.
And a concerned father said: “Maybe I’m an old fashioned sort of bloke but I don’t want my boy seeing this. I could be wrong but I don’t think it’s normal to think about being gay at that age”.
Rikki Beadle-Blair, the writer and director of the production, has said: “When on tour I would ask the kids how many people thought homosexuality was wrong. In every single school the vast majority, about 80 per cent, would put their hands up.
“But kids would come up after the performance and say quite openly ‘I walked into this room homophobic and will leave it a changed person.'”
Last year it was revealed that children as young as 14 had performed a gay version of Shakespeare’s famous love story, dubbed ‘Romeo and Julian’, at a school in London.